The Singapore Grand Prix night race is fast becoming one of the classic races on the Formula One calendar. Since it’s controversial inaugural event in 2008, the race has seen three different winning drivers across five teams and, as one of the longest races of the year, tests the mental and physical endurance of the teams and drivers to provide a mammoth spectacle for the fans. With the eighth Singapore Grand Prix less than one week away, FormulaSpy looks at the ten most memorable moments of the Singapore Grand Prix.
10) Rosberg powerless to prevent retirement
At the start of last year’s event, championship contender Nico Rosberg fell victim to electronic troubles with his Mercedes car. After being unable to leave the grid for the formation lap, he started from the pit lane, but as a result of a faulty wiring loom he had difficulty changing gear, hampering his pace. He circulated at the back in Marussia/Caterham territory before retiring after an attempted restart at the first pit stop. His rival for the championship, Lewis Hamilton, took all 25 points to regain the lead in the championship.
9) Hamilton retires from the lead
With two wins at the Marina Bay street circuit, Hamilton has generally found good fortune, but in 2012 he found himself on the wrong side of lady luck. After taking pole position, he lead the race for 22 laps before his gearbox gave up, forcing him into race retirement. It was one of several mid-race mechanical dramas that would become typical of Hamilton’s 2012 season.
8) The notorious ‘Singapore Sling’
The introduction of the Singapore Grand Prix saw the birth of one of the most punishing corners on the calendar; the Singapore Sling. The left-right-left chicane featured brutal kerbs on the inside of the corners, which would often cause damage to the car’s of those who misjudged them. Famously Kimi Raikkonen crashed his car on the exit of the chicane whilst chasing down Toyota’s Timo Glock for fourth place in the 2008 race.
Force India’s Adrian Sutil took flight over the kerbs after misjudging his entry in 2010, whilst Kamui Kobayashi dramatically did the same thing the following year whilst driving for Sauber. The corner was eventually redesigned altogether and is now merely a single left-hander.
7) Schumacher clatters into Perez
Back in 2011, Michael Schumacher (in his second season of his comeback) found himself battling with Sauber’s Sergio Perez. With the Mexican staying defensive, Schumacher misjudged his braking and crashed dramatically into the back of Perez, sending his Mercedes into the barrier on the exit of turn seven, bringing out the safety car. Unfortunately, Schumacher made the same mistake the following year at Singapore, but this time crashed at turn fourteen into the back of Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne. He received a ten-place grid penalty for the following race.
6) Alonso gives Webber a lift
Following Mark Webber’s last lap retirement at the 2013 Singapore Grand Prix, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso stopped at turn seven during the slowing down lap and offered his Red Bull Racing rival a lift after being flagged down by the Aussie. Webber was taxied back to the pits, but both were reprimanded after the race. The reprimands were not given for the lift itself, but because Webber had re-entered the track without consent of the marshals, and Alonso had parked his car in a dangerous place, allegedly resulting in two cars taking evasive action. It was Webber’s third reprimand of the year, and resulted in a ten-place grid penalty for the following event.
5) Heikki Kovalainen turns fireman
This probably isn’t the way Lotus Racing (Caterham) or Heikki Kovalainen would’ve liked to end a Grand Prix, but it was one of the most spectacular car failures of recent times. In 2010, the Finn was on course for a top-15 finish in the back-marker team, but contact late in the race with Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi resulted in a split fuel tank. Kovalainen intended to return to the pits, but a blaze broke out from the rear of his car. He decided that the car was not safe to return to the pit lane, so parked his car at the side of the start/finish straight. With no fire marshal in sight, he then proceeded to grab a fire extinguisher and put the inferno out himself. He extinguished most of the fire before anybody came to assist.
4) Pit error cost’s Massa victory
Following on from Nelson Piquet’s crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, the resulting safety car encouraged several drivers to make a pit stop with one quarter of the race completed, including race leader a championship nominee Felipe Massa. Whilst the majority of the pit stop went to plan, Ferrari released Massa from his pit box too early, which mean’t the fuel hose was still attached to his car. The hose was ripped away from the mechanics and, still attached to the Ferrari, trailed Massa down the pit lane. Massa came to a stop at the end of the pit lane, where sprinting mechanics caught up with him, detached the nozzle, and sent him on his way.
When Massa returned to the track he was well down the order, and the resulting drive-through penalty for an unsafe pit stop release further punished him as the gap to championship leader Lewis Hamilton extended to seven points.
3) Alonso edges Vettel in race-long battle
At a track where the Red Bull Racing cars were supposed to be the one’s to beat, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso pipped Sebastian Vettel to pole position, setting himself up perfectly for the 2010 race. Following a good start, Alonso was forced to contend with a Red Bull rarely more than a couple of seconds behind. Managing safety car restarts and surviving huge pressure from Vettel, Alonso secured a lights-to-flag race victory and his first Formula One Grand Chelem. At the time, the result moved him to within eleven points of championship leader Mark Webber, who could only manage third place.
2) Sublime car control from Felipe Massa
The move might have only been for ninth place in the race, but the combination of preventing a crash and overtaking an opponent makes this one of the most impressive pieces of driving in recent times. Approaching turn 13, an attacking Massa was edged into the barrier by Senna. The impact caused Massa to lock up and lose control of his car, but thanks to quick steering control, he managed to stop the car in time for the corner and guide his Ferrari past the Williams of Senna. A recent video on formula1.com ranked it as number two in the ‘top five overtakes of the last five years’.
1) Piquet crashes to gift Alonso victory
Almost synonymous with the Singapore Grand Prix, their impressive hosting debut in 2008 was overshadowed by the shenanigans of the Renault team in what became known as ‘Crashgate’.
With drivers Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet Jr starting the race in 15th and 16th place, an adverse strategy was applied in an attempt to gain anything out of the race. With Fernando Alonso pitting early on in the race, Nelson Piquet was instructed to intentional crash his car and bring out the safety car. This benefited Alonso, who gained time on the rest of the field when everybody else was eventually allowed in the pit lane.
The race restarted with Alonso in fifth, which became third when Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica ahead were given penalties for pitting when the pit lane was closed. This left only Jarno Trulli and Giancarlo Fisichella ahead who, on different strategies, soon fell behind. Alonso took the lead and remained there until the checkered flag. Renault had hoped to secure a big points haul from the fix but found themselves winning the race.
The incident only came out when Piquet was dismissed from Renault the following year when he broke the story to the media. Managing director Flavio Briatore and technical director Pat Symonds were found guilty of interfering with the outcome of the Singapore Grand Prix and banned from the sport.
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